The ’60s was clearly the best era. Why? Only 9 teams in a nation of basketball players. If you drove thru every suburb, there was a hoop in EVERY driveway. Society put endless pressure on any kid who was over 6 feet tall. I know; I was 6’3 at 13 years old and was talked out of tennis. A game that sports three seven-footers in today’s ATP.
The black players dominated playgrounds because they couldn’t get into the NBA. With the constant downward pressure of Jim Crow combined with the simple law of supply and demand because of only nine teams, this pressure contributed to forming the hardest diamonds ever made. Four black diamonds and two white diamonds. Russel, Wilt, Elgin, Oscar, Jerry, Pettit.
This is why the Harlem Globetrotters were formed and why the Rucker and other talent-laden tournaments of that ilk popped up all over the nation. The Globetrotters had a winning record against NBA teams in exhibitions. Their victory against the Lakers in 1948 was more celebrated in black communities than the championships of Jack Johnson and Joe Louis. Little known fact. Wilt played the two-guard position during his tenure. Why? Because he could. His 15-20 foot J was wet. He ran the court with the speed of a track star who ran a 9.5 hundred as an adult, with a 50” vertical at 7’4” in shoes. They measured players in socks in that era. He was bigger than everyone in the ’60s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s….yeah, you get it.
The pace was faster than any era; they scored more than any era. (Yes, with no three-point line) Use ur phone, ask Siri to show u NBA scores from 1960. You will be blown away by all the scores in the 140’s and 130’s. The defense was brutal. Remember, they were direct decedents of the ‘cagers.’ When bball was played within the confines of a chain-link fence. U know, like MMA? There was a no lay-up rule at the end of every close game, where u could be close lined, tackled, gently nudged into the basket supports while in flight, or a combination. Bill and Wilt dominated with blocked shots at a clip of at least double figures a game. Wonder why they never kept that stat; that was clearly an indication of dominance during Jim Crow? Hmmm. But hey, LeBron had the greatest chase-down block of all time.
When playoffs came in league with only nine teams, they knew each other so well; it was a bloodbath. West had nine broken noses and was so gifted athletically that he knocked himself out by hitting his head on the bottom of the backboard; he had so much ace wrap on that he looked like a mummy during the playoffs. The Celtics dominated because they were coached by Red Auerbach, who practically invented modern pro basketball. If Wilt and Bill switched teams, it would have been Wilt who won 11. I’m from Springfield, Ma, so u know who my guy was, but the individual talent between those two wasn’t even close. Red is 8-0 in-game seven’s. This is because they gave the ball to Sam Jones. He was more clutch than Jordan, has 10 chips to prove it, and Giannis and Middleton follow that model. All the finals were very close and pressure-packed. Why do you think they gave Kyree so much crap for stomping on Lucky?
Common sense. Who is always better, the guys who invented it all or the guys who copied them. They were doing 360’s, lobs and ally-oops, stepbacks, finger rolls, jump hooks; West was regularly pulling the trigger from 30+, and on the playgrounds, the Euro step, that the whistles wouldn’t allow.
In a country that is still bragging about Babe Ruth, how come we’re so quick to disavow and belittle the players on basketball Mount Rushmore. Is it because it’s a Nike shoe campaign against Converse, the shoe of choice in that era, and a Converse mountain? Or is it because of black diamonds?
I hope I provided you with some nuance, born in 1951 and saw all of Boston’s 17 and all of LA’s 12. I’m a 4th generation cager.
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